On Subtlety

Del Ray Cross, San Francisco poet and editor of the online poetry journal Shampoo, came to speak in my class. We were assigned to read his collection Lub Luffly, an amalgamation of site-specific poems, largely inspired by New York School poets such as Frank O'Hara and Bill Berkson. My own interest in poetry has ebbed in flowed over the years; the poems that strike me often do so with a weight that nearly knocks me down. Otherwise, they leave little to no impression. I admire poems that surprise, that carry unexpected weight, that make you gulp. This poem falls into that latter category:


by Del Ray Cross

While we talk
I'm not gonna
talk about
me or you.

A new sky
is formed
upon the
words we

don't use.
Two pillows
raised to it,
and a laugh

that starts in
one throat
and ends
in another

The simplicity of his prose, paired with the short lines and even the poem's slender length, packs a hidden punch. The clear evasion of feeling is exactly what gives it its oompf. I can sympathize; these days I feel the need to swamp my brain with material, to saturate my life with small, manageable tasks that all at once must be creative and practical. But the moments I remember are rarely accomplishments, or even minor victories; instead they are the quiet ones, the innate ones, the shared glances or imperceptible nods. I hope to recapture a similar subtlety in my own writing.

Speaking of subtlety: A moment of shameless self promotion.

My first KALW radio story was played last week. The piece, "Creating Altars for the Day of the Dead," is my interview with Mexican paper artist Herminia Albarran Romero, who taught a series of workshops at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts here in San Francisco.

More to come -- including a piece about local music label and record store Thrillhouse Records.

Maybe, sometime soon these projects and internships and personal explorations will result in a neat little poem, one that starts in the throat and ends on the page.